Beautiful to Look At
Colorful LED lights separate the base of the device from the movable front.
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Google is calling the “world’s first social media streamer.” When connected to your TV, this $299 ball can be used to stream tunes and videos from your favorite (Gingerbread or higher) Android device.
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If you have Android-toting friends over, you can also give them the ability to control the Q and play their own music and videos.
Set to ship in mid-July, the Q is much more expensive than most music and media streaming devices.
And sad to say, it isn't worth it. The Q is fun to play with, but it also has some significant flaws.
When Google designed the Q, it was looking to create something that you’d want to display on a bookshelf or beside your television for everyone to see rather than keep hidden in a cabinet. While some won't be thrilled with the orb design, there’s no denying it looks a lot better than your average set-top box.
The matte finish of the Q is beautiful to look at. It's smooth to the touch and looks every inch a $300 gadget. Recessed ports on the back of the device help you keep cords tidy and out of the way.
LEDs around the center of the Q can be customized for your space with a number of different themes. The lights will pulsate in time with the music, while a cool visualization comes up on your screen. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before, but it’s still nice to look at.
Waving your hand in front of the blue dot on the front of the Q will mute music, and sliding your fingers along the front can turn the volume up or down. The experience is pretty slick, but it's also not exactly practical.
A pretty ball-shaped device with flashing lights begs to be touched, and likely will be everyone --including small children. During our initial hands-on with the Q, I picked it up and managed to mute the music by accident. Then I accidentally blasted the music so loud I could have broken the speakers, or maybe some eardrums. It's a party foul in the making.
Setting up the Q is surprisingly simple. The HDMI cable, included, is all you’ll need to get connected to your television. Tech-savvy or not, most anyone should be able to get the device hooked up in just a few minutes.
The remainder of the set-up is done from your Android device using a , available at the Play Store or by tapping your phone on the Q to have it sent via NFC.
On-screen prompts within the app guide you through connecting your phone or tablet to the Q via Bluetooth, and inputting information about your Wi-Fi network so the Q knows where to connect. You also identify what room of your home the Q you’re setting up is going to be positioned.
You could have a Q set up with speakers in every room of your home and control all your Qs from the same device. If you don’t have Wi-Fi – or live somewhere where there’s a ton of networks to choose from -- the Q can also be connected to the web with an ethernet cable.
Rock and Roll
Once you’ve gotten the Q set up, streaming music and movies is a breeze with your Android device. Tapping a play button at the top of the screen when playing a song will let you select the Q as an output device via whatever you have it connected to. That's it.
I was able to play some YouTube videos and music on my TV with no issues. Quality looked to be as good as I typically see streaming other content over the web onto my TV, and switching from music to movies and back again worked without much lag. The Q is currently only able to play content from YouTube, Play Music, and Play Movies so you're also pretty limited in what you can watch.
The main advantage the Q has right now over its competition is its social feature. In theory you can create playlists with the Q with your friends and give everyone at your party the ability to control what music is playing and shuffle the tracks around.
All that sounds great, but when it comes time to actually trying to use the functionality -– it just doesn’t work.
I first set up my Q using a Galaxy Nexus running Jelly Bean. I tried to join a party with the Nexus 7 tablet also running Jelly Bean, and while the tablet could find the Q, it wouldn’t let me play any content on it.
Trying to access the Q from my Nexus 7 also seemed to lock the device. I can still play music and stream videos from my Galaxy Nexus, but I no longer have access to the settings for the Q.
I ran into similar problems trying to give a friend’s Android device the privilege to spin tunes: it just didn't work, and produced error messages more often that not.
Both of my devices are afiliated with my Google account, so you would think I would be able to seamlessly connect to the Q. Not so much.
Not Ready For Prime Time
The Q isn’t on sale just yet, and that’s probably a really good thing. In its current form the software is too buggy to make it worth using at all, much less $300 for.
If you’re looking for something to stream video, there are other options out there that can get the job done for a lot less money. Some of those competing devices also offer more forms of content -- Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify -- than the Q can currently handle.
A solid software update -– at the very least -– is going to have to happen before the Q can make its way into consumers’ hands. Google has opened the Q up for developers, and will be interesting to see what they are able to create, and whether the Q can ever offer more functionality than its competition.
This story originally published on Mashable .